Isolation

By David Gledhill, Marketing and Communications Officer

I am one of the lucky ones, I guess because I love writing. I have made a living out of it, and continue to do so.

For more than 30 years I was at the sharp end as a journalist, trying to prove to a rightly sceptical audience, that I was on their side and wanted to get across their good news stories.

Ok, there was an element of bad news that simply had to go with it, but the vast majority of news that makes up this newspaper is good.

In my role as marketing and communications for Ageing Well, I have lots of good news to impart about people aged over 50 living in all parts of the Bay.

I have been amazed by what goes on, often without a fanfare in the heart of the community, and often is done by members of the community coming together to help themselves and each other.

Across the Bay, there are neighbourhood wellbeing coordinators and community builders who are beavering away to overcome isolation among older people – an issue that faces many more of us than we realise.

How many people move to the Bay on the back of numerous fabulous holidays where memories were made and shared over many years.

I guess I am one of those people – I first came to Brixham as a three-year-old, and being from the heart of Yorkshire my first reaction to my first sight of the sea was to rush towards it shouting ‘Big Bath!’

Coincidentally my wife a Bristolian by birth also fondly remembers spending her childhood holidays here and in particular going aboard the Golden Hind.

We did not necessarily pick Brixham because of those holidays but because we found ourselves inexplicably drawn to it time and time again when endeavouring to achieve our dream of living within sight, sound and smell of the sea.

It is a risk for us, as it is for so many people. We have moved away from a very large circle of friends in our former home city of Bath and we are very aware it will take time and effort to make new ones in this area.

We have joined the various clubs that will help with the networking – the kayakers, the singers, the rugby fans, the yachties and the effort is beginning to pay off.

But as our community builders discover over and over again, that big gamble does not pay off for everybody. On the contrary.

Isolation is a terrible thing whether you have lived here all your life or just the last few years, and it can happen to both the former as well as the latter, though it is inevitably more prevalent among the newcomers.

What seemed to be the dream can too easily turn into a nightmare. The pension doesn’t stretch as far as was hoped, the health takes a turn for the worst or in extremis very sadly one of the partners dies.

Suddenly it seems there is no-one to turn to, no-one to share with and no-one to help you out of a rapidly appearing and rapidly deepening hole.

Which is where Ageing Well is making a massive difference. Our team of wellbeing coordinators and community builders have already worked with more than 1000 isolated polder people ensuring through a network of community activities that the levels of loneliness in people we engage with are reduced.

Hospital attendances were more than halved, GP visits nearly halved and levels of anxiety and stress are falling across the board. The positive statistics are as numerous as they are impressive.

Or as our chair June Pierce put is so succinctly: “Growing old is inevitable; let’s join together to make the journey as positive and fulfilling as possible.”

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